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Comment: Re:When the cat's absent, the mice rejoice (Score 1) 286

The dissenting judge disagrees with the majority opinion. It is ridiculous to use the dissenting opinion to explain the majority opinion. Agent Logan was legally able to perform what would normally be an Unconstitutional search when the search was restricted to military personnel only. I said your common sense should have told you that military personal don't have the same Constitutional rights as normal citizens. I also provided a link to a page that described this in detail. Therefore your insinuation that I was relying solely on common sense is another fabrication. If you disagree and think that military personnel have the same Constitutional rights as normal citizens, fine, let's discuss it. But don't insinuate I was relying on common sense when I provided a link (and you could just as easily use Google to get the same results).

Regardless of which laws were used by the defense to throw out the results of a search that was clearly Unconstitutional [see below], the following facts remain:

  1. Military personnel have almost no rights regarding search and seizure.
  2. Agent Logan used these same standards to search "all computers in the state of Washington" without probable cause or a warrant.
  3. The majority opinion said there was a need to deter future violations because there was evidence of widespread and repeated violations. (For goodness sake, the government was arguing it had a right to perform such massive searches. If they eventually prevail is it conceivable that they would stop conducting such searches?).
  4. Your statement "the evidence was thrown out because a military investigator found the material" implies that if someone who was not in the military had performed the search then it would have been legal.

The fundamental question is whether the US Government has the right to search all of the computers in the United States without a warrant and without probable cause. The majority ruled they do not. The choice to use the Posse Comitatus Act was made by the defense attorneys, not the judges. It is usually much cheaper to avoid arguing things on Constitutional grounds. But the use of the PCA by the defense does not at all imply that no Constitutional rights were violated.

It boggles my mind that anyone would honestly think such a search was Constitutional as long as it was performed by non-military personnel. What possible use is the 4th Amendment if such searches were legal? If you really want to argue that such a broad search of normal people would be Constitutional then let's do it. Don't hide behind implications and insinuations.

Comment: Re:When the cat's absent, the mice rejoice (Score 4, Interesting) 286

The evidence was thrown out because a military investigator found the material, not because it was an unconstitutional search.

Nice try but that is not what the fine article says. It says:

The 2-1 majority rejected the government's argument that the military is allowed to monitor and search all computers in a state without prior knowledge that a computer's owner is even in the military.

Even a modicum of common sense should tell you that people in military service do not have the same Constitutional rights as the general public even without the huge hint in the fine article. From Does the Constitution apply to rights of military members?:

But in other respects, even basic rights against unreasonable searches and seizures are virtually non-existent [for military personnel].

The problem was not that a person in the military was conducting a search that would have been Constitutional had a non-military person conducted it. The problem was that the search was performed using the lax (and generally Unconstitutional) standards the military uses for searching its own but it was conducted on an entire state. If the government wins this case then they will have a right to search all of your computers without any warrant or any probable cause just by asking a member of the military to conduct the search and then hand off anything interesting to the police of FBI.

Please stop just making shit up in order to twist a story into fitting your political agenda.

Comment: Re:You have all been trained to accept this as nor (Score 2) 286


How is it a violation of rights or privacy to search a search engine for files that you deliberately make public for the purpose of sharing.


Using software called RoundUp from his office in Georgia, Logan searched for "any computers located in Washington state sharing known child pornography on the Gnutella file-sharing network," the ruling states.

Dear AC, I am not familiar with a search engine called "RoundUp". Will you please provide a link? It looks useful.

More FTFA:

The 2-1 majority rejected the government's argument that the military is allowed to monitor and search all computers in a state without prior knowledge that a computer's owner is even in the military.

Clearly the military has much fewer Constitutional restrictions when they investigate military personnel. This case is about whether the military can investigate the general public with that same lack of Constitutional restraint.

If the court sided with NCIS agent Logan (Logan Cale?) then unless the ruling was overturned by a higher court, the US Government could use military personnel to scan all computers in the US and simply turn over anything suspicious to the local authorities. I don't know why you think it would be a good idea to give the US government the right to constantly scan all of your computers, smart phones, and tablets. I prefer that such searches stay illegal without a proper search warrant.

Comment: TFS is utter bullshit (Score 4, Insightful) 195

by DrJimbo (#47898491) Attached to: The Future According To Stanislaw Lem

Lem wrote about all kinds of possible futures. A small percentage do match the description in the summary but the vast majority conflict with it. Most of his work is about reaching out and exploring in various ways. His work is so varied it is difficult to come up with one theme that describes it all. If I were to try to come up with major themes then I would give at least these:

  1. Alien life is so different from our own that despite our best efforts we are unable to communicate with it or understand it.
  2. Mechanical life begets (creates) biological life which begets mechanical life, and so on. The origins are lost in the shrouds of pre-history.
  3. People are mostly idiots and don't realize it. Present company not excepted.

Comment: Re:You cannot patent an idea (Score 1) 110

by DrJimbo (#47898213) Attached to: Software Patents Are Crumbling, Thanks To the Supreme Court

Therefore Microsoft is right in claiming that software is in fact like a physical machine (since the 1s and 0s of software are real whereas your abstract ideas can't be clearly represented like that) that controls another physical machine (the CPU).

Fine. Then the patent only covers one configuration of ones and zeros that implement the algorithm (corresponding to one physical machine), not every possible configuration of ones and zeros that implement the algorithm (which correspond to an infinite number of different machines). This means the patent is only good for their source code with their compiler with their set of compiler optimizations on one specific CPU architecture. They would be far better off using copyright instead.

The leap you make from protecting one configuration of ones and zeros that implement an algorithm to protecting every possible configuration of ones and zeros that implement the same algorithm is exactly the part of the argument that I characterize as "stupid and ill-informed".

Seriously, how is protecting every possible way to implement an algorithm (on a computer) any different from protecting the algorithm itself (on a computer)? The judges in that case can hide behind the excuse of being completely ignorant of how computers work. What's your excuse?

Comment: Re: Are you fucking serious? Tell me you aren't! (Score 1) 198

Thanks for the link. That paper discusses a system that has C and A but not P. They are looking at fast transactions on a distributed system that is never partitioned (no hardware or network failures). When parts of the system go down they will still have to choose between availability and strong consistency. They tell us they chose C over A:

In its current implementation, Calvin handles hardware failures by recovering the crashed machine from its most recent complete snapshot and then replaying all more recent transactions. Since other nodes within the same replica may depend on remote reads from the afflicted machine, however, throughput in the rest of the replica is apt to slow or halt until recovery is complete.

If they were able to provide C and A and P then it would be huge news. Most of our current databases both RDBMS and NoSQL would instantly be obsolete. Most database design over the past decade or more has involved using different tradeoffs between C, A, and P. If someone really found a way to provide all three at once then all of that work would have been for naught.

Comment: You cannot patent an idea (Score 4, Insightful) 110

by DrJimbo (#47894071) Attached to: Software Patents Are Crumbling, Thanks To the Supreme Court

Legal Match explains:

You can patent pretty much anything under the sun that is made by man except laws of nature, physical phenomena, and abstract ideas. These categories are excluded subject matter from the scope of patents.


What Are Abstract Ideas?
Abstract ideas are concepts like pure mathematics and algorithms. You cannot patent a formula. However, you can patent an application of that formula. Thus, while you cannot patent a mathematical formula that produces nonrepeating patterns, you can patent paper products that use that formula to prevent rolls of paper from sticking together.

In the legal world it is widely accepted that ideas and algorithms cannot be patented. The reason we have/had software patents at all is that despite Bill Gates once saying that it would have been impossible to create Microsoft if software were patentable, Microsoft (and others I imagine) gave the courts a bull shit argument that since running software affects the physical state of the machine it is running on, software is more like a physical object and less like an idea or algorithm. Since the judges knew next to nothing about computers they accepted this bullshit argument hook, line, and sinker.

The problem with Microsoft's argument is that different implementations of the same algorithm create different physical configurations (electrons and so on) of the hardware. Likewise different CPU architectures create different physical configurations and so on. Microsoft's argument ends up with a patent that protects all possible implementations of a algorithm on a computer which is indistinguishable from patenting the algorithm itself.

That incredibly ill-informed and stupid decision opened the floodgates for "... on a computer" patents. The Supreme Court is now trying to rectify that mistake. Abstract ideas cannot be patented. Mathematics cannot be patented. Algorithms cannot be patented. However you can protect the expression of an algorithm by using copyright to protect your particular implementation. You cannot protect all possible implementations of an abstract idea.

Comment: Re:In other words....Don't look like a drug traffi (Score 4, Insightful) 462

by DrJimbo (#47885105) Attached to: CBC Warns Canadians of "US Law Enforcement Money Extortion Program"

Unless you are incredibility stupid, or actually doing something illegal, you have nothing to fear from 99.999% of law enforcement, and for that 0.001% of the time there is a risk, there isn't much you can do anyway. But you have the same things at home I'll bet.

Are you deliberately lying or is the problem that you have not yet learned to Google before posting extraordinary claims?

Your claim is directly contradicted by an article in the New Yorker that was probably pivotal in raising the alarm. Here is a small sample:

Yet only a small portion of state and local forfeiture cases target powerful entities. "There's this myth that they're cracking down on drug cartels and kingpins," Lee McGrath, of the Institute for Justice, who recently co-wrote a paper on Georgia's aggressive use of forfeiture, says. "In reality, it's small amounts, where people aren't entitled to a public defender, and can't afford a lawyer, and the only rational response is to walk away from your property, because of the infeasibility of getting your money back." In 2011, he reports, fifty-eight local, county, and statewide police forces in Georgia brought in $2.76 million in forfeitures; more than half the items taken were worth less than six hundred and fifty dollars. With minimal oversight, police can then spend nearly all those proceeds, often without reporting where the money has gone.

It takes only a pinch of common sense to realize that if you allow a group of people the right to stop law abiding citizens and take their money and possessions with no legal repercussions then this right will be abused.

In some places it costs well over $1,000 for a citizen to start fighting a seizure. If the cops took $500 or less then fighting and winning will cost at least $500 and likely thousands of dollars more.

In a backhanded way, you seem to be saying that the police in America are a bunch of nincompoops who haven't yet figured out that it is much easier to steal smaller amounts of money from people who can't or won't fight back than it is to steal larger amounts of money from people who can and will fight back.

The way the system is set up, it may be impossible to provide accurate statistics on what percentage of these civil forfeitures had anything at all to do with criminal activity because no criminal charges need to be filed and there are big disincentives that prevent even completely innocent people from fighting back.

Many of the anecdotal stories in the New Yorker article show how easy it is for civil forfeiture laws to be systematically abused by the police. Even if the original system was created with the best of intentions it has devolved into us basically paying the police handsomely to violate people's Constitutional rights.

Comment: Re:Wrong Title (Score 3, Informative) 499

by DrJimbo (#47877117) Attached to: Researcher Fired At NSF After Government Questions Her Role As 1980s Activist

She admits to having corresponded to a known terrorist. That may not be the letter of the law in regards to having been an member, but don't you think that she should have mentioned that particular fact, knowing that she was applying for government position that actually required more than a cursory background check?

Hell no. Not unless they asked her about it. She certainly should not have morphed the simple question they asked her about her own group membership into a much larger question about the group memberships of all the people she had ever had any contact with.

The fine article says:

... Balagoon died in 1986 of an AIDS-related illness. (Barr says she wrote to Balagoon occasionally while he was in prison---"it would have been reprehensible for me to drop my correspondence with a dying person," she explains---and visited him once.)

This has nothing to do with her own affiliations. It was also almost 30 years ago. If her association with this man was innocent (which no one is disputing) then it is very unrealistic to expect her to dredge up this old memory during the interview process when she is being bombarded with other questions. Expecting her to answer a complicated question when she is asked a simple question is also highly unrealistic.

I ran into a similar problem with the DIS (now the DSS). They got upset because I had associated with people they thought were communists when I was in graduate school. They were also upset because after grad school a couple of Russians, along with other foreigners stayed at my house for about a week after we all got to know each other working on a volunteer trail crew for a week or two. They were here as part of an exchange program. This was right around the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall when our relationship with Russia was still frosty.

I had answered all of their questions honestly. I was not aware of the political affiliations of all of the people I had worked with. It never occurred to me that doing my patriotic duty by showing a couple of Russians the benefits of the American system was of any interest to the DIS until they accused me of withholding this information.

If they had asked me directly about associating with communists in graduate school, I would not have been able to answer to their satisfaction because I just didn't know. If they had asked me directly if I ever had contact with anyone from a communist country then I might have remembered that short visit. But I might not have remembered even if they had asked because for me it was small, harmless, and inconsequential. When they asked me directly about that particular visit then of course I remembered.

I found the entire process rather intimidating. I was focused intently and racking my brain to answer all of their questions as honestly as possible. It never occurred to me to wonder about other questions they didn't ask that they might want answers to especially since the stuff they got so upset about was totally innocent and harmless. It was like dealing with a big angry girlfriend who expects you to intuit every possible thing she might get upset about even though she does not give you any clues about what those things might be.

Comment: Re:Wrong Title (Score 4, Insightful) 499

by DrJimbo (#47876907) Attached to: Researcher Fired At NSF After Government Questions Her Role As 1980s Activist

I think she may be telling the truth but omitting the fact that she was continuing to contact those two is enough for them to take action.

How is it her fault they asked her the wrong question? Do you now have to be psychic to work for the NSF? They asked if she belonged to any groups "dedicated to the use of violence". She answered the question honestly. Do you really think she should have interpreted that question to mean "ever visit a dying person in jail who was convicted of murder"?

I think the OPM falsely claimed they rejected her for lying because the real reason tramples on her constitutional right to free association. The original question was about whether she herself ever had a personal dedication to the use of violence. I believe this is relevant to her suitability to work for the government. The unconstitutional question they did not ask, about her free associations, is not relevant by order of the Constitution of the United States of America.

Answering the question that was actually asked should be very easy for the vast majority of people. They need only search their own hearts. Answering the unasked question is much more difficult because you have to recall all of the people you have ever had an association with and search their hearts. It makes no sense for her to spend an hour (or ten minutes or whatever) to answer the very simple question they asked her.

To me it seems like the particular special agent who questioned her was effectively judging her on one question:

[ ] Are you now or have you ever been a liberal?

This is disturbing.

Comment: Re: Are you fucking serious? Tell me you aren't! (Score 1) 198

by DrJimbo (#47876309) Attached to: UK's National Health Service Moves To NoSQL Running On an Open-Source Stack

Yes, of course. Likewise when the entire system is down or the ATM you want to use is unplugged, the ATM cannot perform any operation. But that's not what we are talking about here. We are talking about what happens when the database itself is spread out across many nodes (servers) and one or more of those servers goes down. Do you shutdown all the ATMs or do you let them keep handing out money even if you may not be able to show the users a balance that is 100% correct in all cases? Banks choose to provide limited functionality as long as it is safe because customers get really pissed off when the ATMs seem to be broken a lot of the time.

Comment: Re:Are you fucking serious? Tell me you aren't! (Score 2) 198

by DrJimbo (#47872097) Attached to: UK's National Health Service Moves To NoSQL Running On an Open-Source Stack

You're misunderstanding what's been written in that article. This is exactly the scenario that banks *have* to prevent before and as it happens.

These excerpts from one of Brewer's talks seem to substantiate my "misunderstanding": Eric Brewer on Why Banks are BASE Not ACID - Availability Is Revenue


Chasing around for compensation later cannot be an option in many cases because it is going to be abused.

When the system is functioning normally, the difference between strong consistency and eventual consistency is on the order of a few milliseconds. I don't think that leaves much of a window for abuse. The fundamental question is what do you do when there is partitioning? Or as you call it, system degradation. If you take an ACID approach then you shut down everything until the partitioning has been repaired. If you take a BASE approach then you still provide at least some functionality by sacrificing strong consistency. The CAP theorem says you cannot have both strong consistency and availability when there is partitioning.

Whatever system you use locally will be checked live, usually with a mainframe based system that is ACID compliant. If that isn't possible then you have a gradual system degradation where only certain types of transactions are processed.

The fact that you have any functionality at all when there is non-trivial degradation is due to using an overall BASE strategy instead of an ACID strategy. I have no doubt that one or more ACID databases are used as parts of the system but an overall BASE strategy is used by banks when there is partitioning (system degradation).

Remember, this thread started with an AC claiming that you would have to be an idiot to use anything other than ACID for storing data. People responded by saying there is also a place for BASE systems and that the banking industry uses an overall BASE strategy. Perhaps I misunderstand what you are saying but it seems like you are saying that as long as an ACID database is part of the system (or a central part of the system) then the overall system must be ACID which makes little sense to me.

I don't think anyone here is suggesting:

the article is [...] a carte blanche to justify NoSQL systems or to do away with any core systems that compromise ACID at their heart.

The point I've been trying to make is that just like there is a place for ACID systems there is also a place for BASE systems. In addition, as the data sets become larger and more complex and more spread out, the ACID approach becomes more and more untenable due to the CAP theorem. For most (but not all) cases, high-availability and eventual consistency will trump strong consistency.

Comment: Re: Are you fucking serious? Tell me you aren't! (Score 2) 198

by DrJimbo (#47871189) Attached to: UK's National Health Service Moves To NoSQL Running On an Open-Source Stack

There clearly seems to be a failure of communication here. Since you did not like my dumbed down explanation, perhaps you would prefer to hear what Eric Brewer has to say. He seems to have gotten a whole lot of awards for someone who is a "NoSQL nutter".

Eric Brewer on Why Banks are BASE Not ACID - Availability Is Revenue:

Myth: Money is important, so banks must use transactions to keep money safe and consistent, right?

Reality: Banking transactions are inconsistent, particularly for ATMs. ATMs are designed to have a normal case behaviour and a partition mode behaviour. In partition mode Availability is chosen over Consistency.

There are more details here and in many other places.

Acquainting a traditional RDBMS with a phrase like 'lower availability' just highlights to kind of twilight zone you start getting into when talking to any of the NoSQL crowd.

Are you saying you think the CAP theorem is false? I'm assuming large distributed data sets so partitioning is inevitable. According to CAP this means there is a trade off between consistency and availability. RDBMS provide strong consistency so they cannot also provide high availability when there is partitioning.

You didn't work on Mt Gox's systems at any point did you?

Sarcastic ad hominem attacks are an extremely poor substitute for reasoned debate.

Comment: Re:Shipping Claims (Score 2) 80

by DrJimbo (#47870825) Attached to: Northwest Passage Exploration Ship Found

... shipping lanes invariably opening up as the arctic ice cap disappears.

I think you missed the underlying reason. This is just another facet of the elaborate internationally coordinated "global warming" hoax. Once they convince you the ice caps are melting then it is a slippery slope down to allowing Fluoride in our drinking water or believing men landed on the moon or even believing the Earth is round.

Comment: Re: Are you fucking serious? Tell me you aren't! (Score 4, Informative) 198

by DrJimbo (#47870601) Attached to: UK's National Health Service Moves To NoSQL Running On an Open-Source Stack

If a bank doesn't care about ACID, which means it doesn't care about losing completed transactions, which means losing track *OUR* money so they can get more profit.

Perhaps this is where you have gone astray. The opposite of ACID is BASE where the "E" stands for eventual consistency. The beauty of this is that it DOES NOT lose completed transactions and at the same time it allows for high availability.

Strict consistency (the "C" in ACID) is a much more stringent requirement than eventual consistency. In particular it conflicts with high availability. This is the essence of the CAP theorem. In many industries, including banking, eventual consistency plus high availability (NoSQL) is preferable to strict consistency plus lower availability (RDBMS). Of course there are many other factors involved in selecting a database architecture.

One way to see this is by noting the three typical things you can do at an ATM: deposit, withdrawal, and show balance, commute (in a sense) when you are only worried about eventual consistency but they don't commute when you require strict consistency. This is why relaxing the requirement to eventual consistency gives you higher availability (when the database is partitioned). Transactions can be logged and later merged when the partition has healed. It is true that "show balance" does not strictly commute with deposits and withdrawals but: a) this does not cause the system to lose track of your money, and b) no one expects it to strictly commute. There is usually a warning that it may take X hours or days before a transaction shows up on your balance. IOW the balance will eventually be correct after you stop making transactions.

The strict consistency alternative you think is better will mean that all ATMs have to stop working whenever the database is partitioned. For most customers this is totally unacceptable especially since the only value it adds is ensuring that the "show balance" function always includes all of the latest transactions. Even the average person on the street would tell you this approach is really "stupid". No one wants the ATMs to be broken most of the time just to be sure "show balance" is always perfectly up to date.

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.